Konoe Nobutada (近衛信尹)

Nobutada KONOE (November 23, 1565 - December 25, 1614) was a court noble lived in the Azuchi-Momoyama period. He was a son of Sakihisa KONOE. His mother was a lady in waiting of the Konoe family. His original name was Nobumoto, later changed to Nobusuke. His pen name was Sanmyakuin.

He celebrated his coming of age in 1577. The kakan (where a crown is put on the head of the person coming of age) was performed by Nobunaga ODA, who gave him permission to use one character of the name of Nobunaga and he took the name Nobumoto. In 1580, he assumed the position of Naidaijin (Minister of the Center), then Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) in 1585. He got into an argument with Akizane NIJO over the position of Kanpaku (the chief adviser to the Emperor), an incident known as the "Kanpaku Soron," which, following maneuvering by Harusue KIKUTEI, provided Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI with an excuse for assuming the position of Kanpaku. In fact, Hideyoshi and his nephew, Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI, were the only people to assume the position of Kanpaku not from the Fujiwara clan. Nobutada was privately upset by the fact that Hideyoshi transferred the position of Kanpaku to Hidetsugu and resigned from the position of Sadaijin in February, 1592.

According to a letter received by Harusue KIKUTEI in 1590, it was said that Nobutada, who spent his early years in the provinces and even after returning to Kyoto had more opportunities to make friends with Nobunaga's pageboys than with the nobles, admired the samurai. As soon as Hideyoshi directed his forces against Korea, he ran away from Kyoto and went off to Hizen Nagoya in order to cross the sea to Korea in January, 1593 (December, 1592 in lunar calendar). The Emperor Goyozei puzzled over the event and sent an imperial rescript to Hideyoshi to prevent Nobutada from crossing the sea. His conduct, which was too bold for a courtier, and a false accusation by Harusue KIKUTEI (it is said that the sentence, 'If the position of Kanpaku is transferred by succession, I hope to be assigned at least as Nairan (the person who checked documents before they were given to the Emperor)' included in the afore-mentioned letter caused the problem) led the Emperor to censure Nobutada in May 1594, leaving him in a difficult position.
Nobutada was exiled to Bonotsu, Satsuma Province for three years and the things that happened during that period are described in detail in Nobutada's diary, 'Sanmyakuinki.'
Although he felt lonely living in distant Kyushu, he was made to feel welcome by Yoshihisa SHIMAZU.

In October 1596, Nobutada received permission from the Emperor to go back to Kyoto. In 1601, he returned to the position of Sadaijin. In 1605, he assumed the long-cherishedposition of Kanpaku. He died on December 25, 1614. He was 50 years old. He was buried in Tofuku-ji Temple in Kyoto. Since Nobutada had no successor, Emperor Goyozei's fourth son, whose mother was Chuwamonin Sakiko, a younger sister of Nobutada, was named Nobuhiro KONOE and made heir.

He showed exceptional talent in calligraphy, waka (a 31-syllable Japanese poem), renga (linked verse) and painting. He was particularly known for calligraphy, having learned the Sonen school and developed a manner of his own called the Konoe school or the Sanmyakuin school.
He was praised for his skillful brushwork and, together with Koetsu HONAMI and Shojo SHOKADO, was one of the 'Three great calligraphers of Kanei era.'

[Original Japanese]